For example, can the host of a TV show, like "Weakest link", ask a contestant such a question:

Name the name of the 45th US president.

I think it may be some kind of tautology. I am really not good at word usage, but I suggest it would be better to say either:

1) Tell the name of the 45th US president.


2) Say the name of the 45th US president.


3) Name the 45th US president.

(without the noun "name").

So is there a mistake in my initial question, and if it is, which substitution would be the best?

  • More idiomatic: What is the name of the 45th US president? – Davo Nov 7 '17 at 17:35
  • @Davo, thanks. I thought of using a wh-question instead of imperative. I agree it sounds better. – Alexander Nov 7 '17 at 17:39
  • But what about the phrase "name a name..."? For example, "Name a name of a famous robber." That means that any robber's name will work: Butch Cassidy, John Dillinger, Ned Kelly et cetera. I think in that case one cannot ask: "What is a name of a famous robber?" – Alexander Nov 7 '17 at 17:43

Despite its apparent awkwardness, I prefer the original (i.e., Name the name) over either of your suggestions (Say the name, or Tell the name).

The verb name is often used in a quiz show format; for example:

Name the general who was defeated at Waterloo.
Name the Canadian province which comes last alphabetically.
Name the sport invented by William G. Morgan in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The verbs say and tell merely mean “recite” or “say aloud”. The verb name adds to that a notion of correctness. NOAD says:

name (v.) give the correct name for

As for your third option:

Name the 45th US president

I find that more acceptable; however, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the original has a “mistake” or that such a change is necessary.

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